How to Best Experience a Boat Tour Around Shell Island

When it comes to taking a boat tour around Shell Island, you have many choices. Whether you want to go with a trained crew, a friend, or out on your own, we’ll go into the pros and cons of each below, as well as some of the best things to do while out on your trip in PCB!

Guided Cruise:

Guided cruises are great for those of you deciding to take a vacation to Panama City Beach! You don’t need to have anything arranged ahead of time (except maybe a reservation) and they’re quick and simple, usually providing things like food and entertainment on board. Many of the captains will give you historical information of the area, as well as make jokes. They also know where all the world famous Florida dolphins tend to be, so you’re much more likely to see them! You can also be out in the Gulf or in St. Andrews State Park, since the boats are built to handle the waves. Unfortunately, they tend to be shorter rides and are also quite expensive. The experience isn’t unique either, since it’s part of their routine. Tours also won’t stop for you to interact physically with the dolphins, you’ll have to settle with seeing and taking pictures of them, which can be fun in itself!

Pontoon Rental:

Getting a Pontoon rental is an excellent option if you want to have full control over your Shell Island experience. Not only can you tour around, but you can park up on the shore and enjoy the beach where few people travel to! You don’t even have to stop there, you could stop anywhere in Panama City Beach! If you happen to spot dolphins out on the water, nothing’s stopping you from pulling up alongside them and swimming with them either, making your Florida trip truly unique! As an extra bonus, pontoons are multipurpose! So you can go take a Shell Island tour, fish off of them, dive off of them, or just turn them into party barges! It is the most expensive option though, and you’ll be spending most of your time in St. Andrews State Park, since you generally can’t bring your pontoon rental out into the Gulf. This is because the waves are much stronger and pontoons aren’t the most resilient of boats. In any case, having a truly customizable and unique trip to PCB is much easier with a pontoon rental.

Friend’s Boat:

What’s better than owning your own boat? Having a friend who has a boat. Undoubtedly the best option of the three, having a friend with a ship give the benefits of both a professional cruise and pontoon rental. You also can enjoy your time out on the water with friends anywhere, even the Gulf! The only possible downsides is relying on your friends level of care and maintenance, compared to the professional daily maintenance of the other options. It’s also very difficult if you’re traveling to happen to also have a friend with an available ship here at the same time. It’s even more difficult to ensure your friend has time to go out with you while you’re here.

How to Best Experience Shell Island:

Once you’ve got your ship situation down, now what? Here are some of the things you have to do while on your tours!
See all the amazing wildlife! The wildlife doesn’t just include the famously beautiful Florida dolphins either, since you’ll be largely in St. Andrews State Park, where there is a huge selection of wildlife. You could see deer, alligators, and maybe even black bears! Since Panama City Beach ensures there’s a lack of development in the area around Shell Island, it would be a huge miss not to see all the wildlife!
Take out your goggles and try diving or snorkeling! There is a massive variety of fish in the area due both to the beautiful reefs preserved by Panama City Beach. Snorkeling is the much cheaper option, and gear for both snorkeling and diving can be rented easily! Just make sure you ask as you’re renting where the best spots out on the water are for snorkeling, you want to spend as much time as possible seeing the beautiful fish!
Speaking of fish, you could also try fishing! Some of the tours allow you to fish off of them, especially the charter cruises. The charter cruises include both trolleys and deep-sea fishing! Because of the massively diverse variety around PCB, you can go out on a trip here in any season. Fishing passes for people who are from outside PCB are also not that expensive.

Now that we’ve given you some ideas on how best to experience your time around Shell Island, we hope you come on over to Panama City Beach and try them out yourselves! If you need help with any of it, be sure to stop by FunPCB and we’ll take care of you!